11 Amazing Places to See Along the Washington Coast (2022)

Rugged, remote, and wild, the Washington Coast exceeds expectations with every mile you head north along U.S. Route 101—from the mouth of the Columbia River to the tip of the Olympic Peninsula. Known for its lack of amenities, there are only a few small towns scattered along the way, leaving you alone with the elements, able to experience solitude, serenity, and the intensely gorgeous scenery along the shores of the Evergreen State. While a lifetime could easily be spent uncovering every isolated nook and cranny along the Washington Coast, the following 11 destinations will whet your appetite and provide a great taste of what this gorgeous strip of coastal paradise has to offer.

1. Cape Disappointment

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Located at the northern mouth of the Columbia River, Cape Disappointment offers excellent views of enormous waves slamming against rocks, while a picturesque lighthouse rests above. Cape Disappointment is one of Washington’s State Parks, offering eight miles of hiking trails and a campground complete with yurts, RV and tent sites. Said to be one of the foggiest places in the Unites States, the cape and its trails are amazing during the winter months, as giant storm surges transform the area into a chaotic and beautiful coastal wonderland.

(Video) 10 Best Places to Visit in Washington State - Travel Video

2. Long Beach

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Stretching for 28 miles, Long Beach Washington claims to be the longest beach in the United States and is said to be the second longest drivable beach in the world. With sand dunes and driftwood, museums, kite flying and gorgeous sunsets, Long Beach is the perfect place to go and relax along the Pacific Coast. Surrounded by Wildlife Refuges and State Parks, this remote corner of Washington State will give you privacy and solitude along the cresting waves. Whether you decide to stop at Marsh’s Free Museum and see Jake the Alligator man, or wander the beach in search of agates and prettified wood, Long Beach is worth the drive off of Highway 101.

3. Westport

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On the southern side of Grays Harbor, the small town of Westport sits along the coast, protected from the mighty Pacific by a man-made rock jetty. Known for incredible fishing, breathtaking sunsets, and a rich seafaring culture, Westport offers an historical glimpse at life along the Washington Coast. Small shops line the boardwalk, while local parks give you access to miles of walking along the windswept dunes. Most of the year, the fishing out of Westport is incredible, helping anglers land salmon, albacore tuna, and halibut. In the spring, whale watching trips are available to watch the 20,000+ gray whales swim north, less than a mile offshore.

4. Damon Point

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Across Grays Harbor from Westport, Damon Point rests at the end of the Ocean Shores Peninsula, giving incredible views of the entire region. As the Olympic Mountains and Mount Rainier rise up to the east, the mighty Pacific extends to the horizon to the west, allowing a breathtaking vista under soaring bald eagles. Damon Point is a great stop for beach combers, giving miles of beaches to walk while looking for agates, petrified wood, and anything else washing up on the shore. With seals commonly seen offshore and the occasional snowy owl in the winter, wildlife watching makes for another great reason to visit this off-the-beaten-path destination.

(Video) Best Coastal Towns in Washington State

5. Kalaloch Tree Root Cave

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Once you enter Kalaloch, where the rainforest meets the ocean and where sea stacks slowly decompose into the never-ending onslaught of waves, the true rugged beauty of the Washington Coast begins to take hold. One of the more scenic views, aside from the breathtaking vista at the Kalaloch Lodge, is the Kalaloch Tree Root Cave, just a few hundred feet from the campground parking lot. Defying the odds, this tree is holding on by its roots, surviving against the power of erosion and the elements. Struggling and somehow living another day, we are inspired by its resilience, strength, and beauty.

6. Ruby Beach

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Just a few miles north of Kalaloch Lodge on Highway 101, one of the most spectacular beaches on the entire west coast is waiting to be discovered. Full of sea stacks and driftwood, incredible views and bloody sunsets, Ruby Beach is one of the most impressive and accessible coastal areas in the National Park Service. Getting to this beach requires a short 1/2 mile walk down a well-maintained trail from the parking area to the beach itself. Here, numerous sea stacks rise up from the ground, most noticeably the large island to the north called Abbey Island. To the west, Destruction Island rests offshore, home to a lighthouse visible from the beach. The beach is gorgeous and offers the perfect introduction to the 73 miles of wilderness coast in Olympic National Park.

7. Second Beach

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One of the classic coastal hikes of Olympic National Park, Second Beach can be found west of Forks, near the small tribal town of LaPush. At just four miles round trip, the hike to Second Beach leaves most hikers breathless with the incredible views of sea stacks, pounding surf, tide pools, and wildlife sightings. During low tide, one can walk south for nearly a mile, finding solitude even on busy summer days. Highlighted by the arch stretching to the north and the Quileute Needles offshore, this is an ideal place to relax, set up camp, and watch a spectacular sunset. This is one of the most scenic places in Washington and worth the detour.

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8. Rialto Beach

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North of the Quileute River and the small town of LaPush, Rialto Beach is one of the most well-known Olympic National Park beaches. Highlighted by the hike to Hole in the Wall, which is two miles north of the trailhead, this remote and rugged hike is incredibly popular. Hole in the Wall is a bus-sized hole in a sea stack, surrounded by tide pools and incredible sea stacks in all directions. This is typically the first stretch of multi-day backpacking trips along the Olympic Coast and has plenty of opportunities to see eagles, sea otters, seals, and even whales. With magnificent sunsets and the steady sound of the crashing waves pushing tons of rocks with each churn, this is an ideal place to relax and forget about the problems of the world.

9. Ozette Triangle

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Yet another iconic hike, the Ozette Triangle is remote, wild, and absolutely gorgeous. Far from any city, the journey to get to Ozette seems to take just about as long as it does to hike the nine mile loop trail. The trail is broken up into three sections: the initial boardwalk, the beach, and the return boardwalk. Each is about three miles in length and pretty easy to follow. While the boardwalks are neat, the draw to the region is the three miles of gorgeous coast. For most, the highlight of the coastal section is found halfway along the beach. Here, a small trail is visible, leading to a sea stack known as Wedding Rocks. The area is stunning and is a site of ancient petroglyphs, depicting timeless scenes of coastal beauty. While best done as a backpacking trip, Ozette can be hiked in a day and is one of the classic adventures in Olympic National Park.

10. Shi Shi Beach

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While Ozette gets most of the fame, Shi Shi Beach is considered by many to be the best stretch of coast in Washington State. Accessed from the Makah Reservation near the very northwest corner of the Olympic Peninsula, the eight mile round trip trek to Shi Shi Beach and Point of the Arches is a geological coastal wonder, offering unique sea stacks, incredible rock formations, and fantastic tide pools overflowing with life. The first three miles of the trail can be muddy, as they work their way south on the bluff, but the slog is worth every step once you reach the spectacular scenes awaiting you at the coast. Point of the Arches has some of the best sunsets in America and has been frequently featured in nature and photography magazines for its incredible beauty. Do not miss this beach.

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11. Cape Flattery

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Finally, no trip along the Washington Coast is complete without standing on the northwestern-most point in the contiguous United States. Known as Cape Flattery, this trail and viewpoint located on the Makah Reservation is downright breathtaking. Following the trail, which is just 1.5 miles in length, experience the majesty of coastal forests while walking over cedar-planked raised walkways. The short path leads to one of the most-rugged and beautiful overlooks in America, giving you a glimpse of pure Pacific Northwest beauty. As sea stacks with trees rise from the swelling sea below, seals and seal lions play in the surf. Off the coast, whales are frequently spotted swimming where the Pacific Ocean meets the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Few places in America are as remote and inspiring as Cape Flattery. As you stand on the edge of the country, gazing out into the blue horizon, the spirit of the Pacific Northwest can be felt in full force.

More information these and other destinations long the Washington Coast can be found in the author’s guidebook, the Definitive Guide to Olympic National Park and Peninsula.

Written by Douglas Scott for RootsRated.

(Video) Washington Coast in January

FAQs

What is the number 1 attraction in Washington? ›

1: Olympic National Park

It encompasses almost a million acres and several ecosystems. One of the most popular attractions, Mt. Olympus, is home to some of the best hiking and backpacking trails in the state. Visitors can also venture through Hoh Rainforest and its massive 500 year-old trees.

Where is the best place to live on the Washington coast? ›

Seattle. That's right! Thanks to its location on Puget Sound, Seattle counts as one of the best coastal towns in Washington.

What is the best time of year to visit Washington State? ›

The July–September high season is the best time for warm, dry days. July and August are the warmest and driest months in Washington and it's high season – even Seattleites get a little sun. Most visitors opt to visit in summer and early fall (July through September).

What can you do in Washington state for free? ›

10 free things to do in Washington state
  • Explore art and nature at the Olympic Sculpture Park in Seattle.
  • Check out the fish and ships at Ballard Locks.
  • Tour the Grand Coulee Dam.
  • Visit the Frye Art Museum.
  • Picnic amid industrial ruins at Gas Works Park.
  • Get misted at Spokane Falls.
  • Visit the state capitol building in Olympia.
15 Aug 2022

Is Washington state worth visiting? ›

Washington is best known for its biggest city of Seattle, but the Evergreen State is also home to a staggering number of scenic destinations. Whether you want to hike right up to waterfalls, admire snow-capped mountains from a distance or spend the day on islands off the coast, Washington has it all.

What is one of the major cities of the Coastal Range in Washington state? ›

Washington coastal counties with major cities (Based on population, census 2010)
City2010 Population Census2016 Population Estimate
Port Angeles19,03819,270
Aberdeen16,89616,780
Hoquiam8,7268,580
Ocean Shores5,5695,955
59 more rows
6 Aug 2022

Can you drive down the Washington coast? ›

Long Beach Peninsula and Ocean Shores in Washington are places where you can drive on the beach. Each beach area is open to driving on the beach at all times, and three-quarters of the Long Beach Peninsula area is open to vehicles driving on the sand.

Where is the best place to see the Northern Lights in Washington state? ›

He suggests Table Mountain near Mount Baker in the North Cascades and the Manastash Ridge Observatory near Ellensburg. “Any place that's high and dark is really what you need, with a northern view,” Sahr says.

What is the rainiest month in Seattle? ›

A lot of rain (rainy season) falls in the months: January, March, November and December. On average, November is the wettest month with 6.4 inch (162 mm) of precipitation. On average, July is the driest month with 0.6 inch (16 mm) of precipitation.

What month is the best month to visit Washington state? ›

The best time to visit Seattle is from September to October. Summer marks the city's high season, meaning room rates rise and availability drops, while cold winter weather can deter even the most avid sightseers.

What is the most popular food in Washington state? ›

When it comes to food, Washington State is known for serving up all kinds. However, with that being said, it's their fresh coastal seafood that they're most famous for.

Can I take a train from Florida to Seattle? ›

Trip Summary

There are 4 daily trains from Orlando to Seattle. Traveling by train from Orlando to Seattle usually takes around 106 hours and 53 minutes, but the fastest Amtrak train can make the trip in 96 hours and 53 minutes.

Can you get around Washington State without a car? ›

Public Transit

And, of course, there's the truly public option. Seattle's sprawling public transportation system is spearheaded by the bus system from King County Metro at $2.75 a ride, including programs like RapidRide (express bus), Dart (a smaller bus on off-route trips), and the Night Owls (night bus).

What food is Washington known for? ›

Washington state is known for its fresh coastal seafood, eastern vineyards and, of course, abundant coffee shops. But it's also home to a diverse community of farmers and foragers that grow and harvest ingredients like lavender, asparagus, mushrooms and peated barley.

What is Washington's most famous for? ›

What is George Washington known for? George Washington is often called the “Father of His Country.” He not only served as the first president of the United States, but he also commanded the Continental Army during the American Revolution (1775–83) and presided over the convention that drafted the U.S. Constitution.

What are 3 interesting facts about Washington? ›

Washington Fun Facts & Trivia
  • Mount St. ...
  • The highest point in Washington is Mount Rainier. ...
  • The state of Washington is the only state to be named after a United States president.
  • The Pike Place Market in Seattle is said to host a bevy of ghosts and just might be the most haunted place in the state of Washington.

What is the oldest city in Washington State? ›

Incorporated in 1854, Steilacoom is Washington State's oldest city, and they're not shy about talking about it. With just over 6,000 residents, it's a sleepy little town on the Puget Sound waterfront.

Where is the warmest place in Washington state? ›

Warmest (annual): Vancouver (average annual temperature 54.1°F). Warmest (month): Pasco (average July max temperature 91.3°F). Coldest (annual): Republic (average annual temperature 43.9°F). Coldest (month): Winthrop (average December min temperature 14.4°F).

What is the poverty line in Washington state? ›

The gap between the income needed for self-sufficiency in Thurston County and the Federal poverty level continues to grow. In 2014, the gap was $5,629 for a one-person household. In 2020, this grew to $12,295.

Which city has the best weather in Washington state? ›

Tacoma, WA

Despite the Pacific Northwest's reputation for rain, Tacoma has some of the best weather in the U.S.—it actually receives less rainfall each year on average than other major U.S. cities like Houston and New York!

What is the best time of year to visit the Pacific Northwest? ›

Best time to visit the Pacific Northwest

While it's good to visit the Pacific Northwest any time between May and October, I particularly like being there in late September or early October.

Why do people go to Washington? ›

One of the most visited cities in the USA, Washington, DC offers a variety of interesting experiences, from learning about American history and government to seeing many of the most iconic sights in the country. This vibrant city is also home to great food, art, cultural attractions and much more.

Is Leavenworth Washington worth visiting? ›

Leavenworth is home so many stunning hiking trails, especially the Icicle Creek / Icicle Gorge trail. From easy beginner trails to advanced day trips, check out this trail site for more info on trails and get out exploring nature!

How many miles long is the Washington coast? ›

Table
State or territoryMethod 1 (CRS)Method 2 (NOAA)
CoastlineCoastline
Washington157 mi (253 km)3,026 mi (4,870 km)
New Jersey130 mi (210 km)1,792 mi (2,884 km)
New York127 mi (204 km)2,625 mi (4,225 km)
34 more rows

What is Long Beach WA known for? ›

The Long Beach Peninsula is the longest contiguous beach in the U.S. at about 28 miles; The entire area is renowned for the abundant seafood harvests. This is the area of the largest salmon run in the world, razor clams, numerous other fish (halibut, cod, sardines, tuna, anchovies, etc.)

How much money do I need to retire in Washington state? ›

The average 65 year old living in Washington can expect to spend a total of $1,245,825 in retirement — more than in all but five other states. Life expectancy at age 65 in Washington is half a year longer than the national average and the cost of living is also higher — and both contribute to greater retirement costs.

Does Washington state tax Social Security and pensions? ›

Washington State has no income tax. That means income from Social Security, pensions and retirement accounts is all tax-free in Washington. Sales tax rates are quite high and property tax rates are about average.

Which is better for retirement Oregon or Washington? ›

We recommend Oregon if you're looking for a laid-back society with rich green scenery for outdoor activities such as golfing, hiking, and biking. Washington might be for you if you prefer big cities' fast-paced life but still want some room for physical activities.

How long does it take to drive the coast from Washington to California? ›

How long is the drive from Washington to California? The total driving time is 15 hours, 35 minutes.

How long does it take to drive the Pacific Coast Highway from Seattle to San Diego? ›

It takes 32 hours to complete the 1585 miles of this route, which is an average speed of less than 50 miles per hour. This route is best for folks who have a full week to make the journey.

Is 2022 a good year to see the northern lights? ›

"There will continue to be aurora viewing opportunities in 2022," Steenburgh said. "The solar cycle is indeed ramping up and as solar activity increases, so do the chances for Earth-directed blobs of plasma, the coronal mass ejections, which drive the geomagnetic storms and aurora."

Where is the best place to see the northern lights in 2022? ›

The best places to see the Northern Lights in 2022 are scattered on the most extreme latitudes of our planet: Iceland, Canada, Alaska, Norway, Finland

When and where is the best time to see the northern lights? ›

However, they most often occur around 65º to 70º North latitudes — the Arctic Circle — which only gets significant darkness between September and March. Hence that's the observing season in places like Alaska, northern Canada, Iceland, Lapland (northern Norway, Sweden, and Finland), and northern Russia.

What's the coldest month in Seattle? ›

The coldest month of the year in Seattle is December, with an average low of 38°F and high of 47°F.

Can you wear shorts in Seattle? ›

Summers in Seattle are warm enough for you to wear shorts and cute dresses during the day, but you'll still want to have a sweater or light jacket for evenings. If traveling here during the summer, make sure to bring the following: Dress, skirt, or pants. Pair of shorts or capris.

What is the coldest month in Washington state? ›

The cool season lasts for 2.9 months, from December 3 to March 1, with an average daily high temperature below 60°F. The coldest month of the year in Washington is January, with an average low of 35°F and high of 54°F.

What is the rainy season in Washington State? ›

The rainy season extends from October to March with December normally the wettest month, however, precipitation is rather evenly distributed through the winter and early spring months with more than 75% of the yearly precipitation falling during the winter wet season.

Where can I see Northern Lights in Seattle? ›

While Seattle sightings aren't impossible, out-of-town vantage points have a higher chance of visible lights. Some possible viewing spots: Snoqualmie Point Park just off I-90 in the town of Snoqualmie has decent sight lines and easy access from Seattle.

When should I go to Washington state? ›

May, June, September, and October are sprinkled with occasional rain but are the best times to go for fewer crowds and still pleasant weather. Crowds are still very much existent throughout May, June, September, and October, but are less overwhelming compared to the summer.

What is Washington famous for? ›

Washington is known for: Beautiful Scenery. Agriculture. Birthplace of Starbucks.

Why Washington is the best state? ›

Education, Energy and Economy Lead Washington to Top Spot in Best States Ranking. The Evergreen State takes the top spot again in the U.S. News Best States ranking on the strength of its tech sector and other industries.

What number state is Washington? ›

Washington is admitted as the 42nd state to the United States of America on November 11, 1889.

What are the 3 most populated cities in Washington? ›

Looking for a list of cities, counties or zips in Washington?
RankCityPopulation
1Seattle733,919
2Spokane229,071
3Tacoma219,205
4Vancouver192,169
158 more rows

What are 3 interesting facts about Washington? ›

Washington Fun Facts & Trivia
  • Mount St. ...
  • The highest point in Washington is Mount Rainier. ...
  • The state of Washington is the only state to be named after a United States president.
  • The Pike Place Market in Seattle is said to host a bevy of ghosts and just might be the most haunted place in the state of Washington.

What's the oldest city in the state of Washington? ›

Incorporated in 1854, Steilacoom is Washington State's oldest city, and they're not shy about talking about it. With just over 6,000 residents, it's a sleepy little town on the Puget Sound waterfront.

What's the best state to live in 2022? ›

Massachusetts topped 2022's list, touting a score of 62.65 out of 100. New Jersey came in second, dropping from the top spot last year. New York, Idaho and Virginia fill out the rest of the top five states to live in, in that order.

Why is Washington state so rich? ›

The state has a large volume of seaborne foreign trade with Asia. Leading economic sectors are government, real estate and rental leasing, and information; manufacturing comes fourth (8.6% of the state's GDP). Fruit and vegetable production, and hydroelectric power, are other important sectors.

Is Washington a friendly state? ›

Living in Washington state means enjoying a lot of diversity. Plus, the state has a very welcoming culture. And the people are pretty friendly.

Do any celebrities live in Washington State? ›

Bill and Melinda Gates have a $127 mansion in Medina, WA, which is about 15 minutes from Seattle. Jeff Bezos is another one of the Seattle celebrities. He lives in a 29,000 square foot home in Medina, WA. The list of celebrities from Seattle includes Pearl Jam, who got its start in Seattle.

Who is the most famous person from Washington State? ›

Below are the top 10 famous people from the State of Washington.
  • Jimi Hendrix – Musician. Photo by A. ...
  • Bill Gates – Business Magnate. ...
  • Fred Couples – Golfer. ...
  • Bing Crosby – Actor & Singer. ...
  • Sammy White – Baseball Player. ...
  • Linda Buck – Biologist. ...
  • Pamela Reed – Actress. ...
  • Mary McCarthy – Critic & Author.
10 Jan 2022

What was invented in Washington? ›

Do you know of any other incredible Washington inventions??
...
Some People Don't Know These 10 Things Came From Washington
  • Bread clips. ...
  • Pictionary and Cranium. ...
  • Backpacks. ...
  • Doughnut makers. ...
  • Father's Day. ...
  • Slinky Dogs. ...
  • Oberto Jerky. ...
  • Pickleball.
3 Aug 2015

What are people from Washington called? ›

Washington. People who live in Washington are called Washingtonians or 'Toners.

Why is DC not a state? ›

What is Washington, DC? Washington, DC, isn't a state; it's a district. DC stands for District of Columbia. Its creation comes directly from the US Constitution, which provides that the district, "not exceeding 10 Miles square," would "become the Seat of the Government of the United States."

What is Seattle best known for? ›

Seattle is famous for Starbucks and overall coffee culture, grunge music scene, the Seahawks, the Space Needle, Pike Place Market, headquarters of a lot of the tech industry (including both Amazon and Microsoft), hiking, kayaking, and general outdoors lifestyle (think REI).

Videos

1. TOP 10 Things to do in WASHINGTON, D.C. | DC Travel Guide
(Hungry Passport)
2. 🏕⛲ Washington State: Free Camping, Free Hot Springs, Priceless Fun! | Newstates in the States
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(Nick Johnson)
4. Once Upon A Vanlife Episode 11 (Crossing the border/Washington/Oregon)
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5. BEST Place to See Orcas in North America | San Juan Island, Washington
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6. PBS NewsHour full episode, Sept. 27, 2022
(PBS NewsHour)

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